Are there ever days when you feel like a fraud?
Sometimes I do. I talk about thriving with Fibromyalgia, but there are days my illness and its associated problems cause things to come to a screeching halt. Just recently I had to take time away from the computer due to eye issues. This is a recurring problem for me. It’s frustrating because it happens at the most inopportune times and I get behind with anything computer-related.
When the realities of chronic illness punch me in the face like this, I wonder just how much I’m really thriving.
As I thought about this, I remembered all the things I did do while I couldn’t use the computer much: finishing up one of my Continuing Ed courses and making progress on the other one, my office ‘one thing’ each day, etc.. I realized that regardless of how I was feeling, I was progressing in other areas.
This really drove something home for me. The ability to thrive is not contingent on feeling well or being able to do the same things other people are doing. Thriving means that we are growing, moving forward, living with purpose.
As I talked about in Lessons From the Grandpa Tree, this growth and forward movement are not always linear. Sometimes we grow a lot, and sometimes we just hunker down and wait out the storms. During those periods we may not have as much forward movement, but it doesn’t mean we’re not growing.
The reality of living with a chronic illness is that there are going to be days when we just have to acknowledge our limitations. We have to work within the confines of our illness. That doesn’t mean we’re not thriving. It simply means we’re smart enough to figure out what our bodies need.
Thriving can look different for each individual. Let’s look at how Dictionary.com defines it:
Thrive: to prosper, be fortunate or successful
to grow or develop vigorously; flourish
See how personal this is? Each person has to figure out what prosperity, fortune and success looks like for them. Only they know if they’re growing and flourishing.
So how do we figure out what it means for us personally to thrive?
Asking ourselves a few questions might help. Here are some that have helped me reframe things when I’ve been feeling discouraged about my lack of progress, or when my illness has kept me from doing things I wanted to do.
- How do I feel about my life as a whole? This is important, because at those times when we’re stopped by our illness, that’s all we can see. Just because that’s all we can see doesn’t mean that’s all there is though….
- What’s working well for me?
- Do I feel that I’m thriving right now? If not, what would need to improve for me to feel that I am?
- What does success mean for me?
- What is one thing in my life that I’m happy about right now?
- What relationships am I thankful for? Which ones need work?
- What are some things I can do on those days I have limitations?
- What would growth look like for me at this point?
- What am I thankful for right now?
These are only a few questions to help us determine what thriving when we live with a chronic illness looks like. Looking at our answers can help us get past the feelings we have and see things more objectively.
If we feel we’re not thriving at the moment, that’s okay too. Sometimes with a chronic illness, as I said above, we just have to hunker down and ride out the storms.
The important thing to remember is that, rather than concentrating on our limitations, we need to nurture the things that will help us flourish. That’s how we truly thrive.
What questions would you add to this list? What helps you know whether you’re thriving or just surviving? Please share!